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Phi Tau remembers late brother

By Kelly Burns, For The Miami Students

A group of male students in lacrosse gear gathered on Cook Field on Saturday.

They stood in a tight huddle, dressed in shorts and red jerseys despite the freezing temperature. The group put their hands into the center of their circle.

Thrusting their fists down in unison, they yelled, "Briggs!"

With that, Phi Kappa Tau's Justin Briggs Memorial Lacrosse Tournament began.

Justin Briggs, a sophomore member of the fraternity, passed away over the summer.

With the tournament, Phi Tau was able to honor his memory and his love of lacrosse.

Alec Prophit, a member of Briggs' pledge class, was heavily involved in the planning of the tournament.

"It's been crazy," he said. "But when you're doing something like this that's going to mean a lot to a lot of people, and Justin obviously meant a lot to us, it makes it easier to go the extra mile because you want it to be done well for someone you cared about."

Prophit said the tournament was never meant to be competitive, but rather was a way to remember Briggs and raise money for a good cause.

"We wanted to do something that brought all of his Miami friends together and also do something that Justin loved to do," Prophit said. "He played lacrosse in high school, and he was really good, so this was kind of perfect."

"We figured that we might as well raise money for a good cause while we're having fun," added Phi Tau President Robby Nigro.

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All profits from the tournament, a total of $6500, were donated to the Justin Briggs Memorial Scholarship Fund through Honduras Hope. This fund was set up by Briggs' family after his death to help children in Honduras get an education.

Nigro said the entire point of the event was to remember Briggs, who was Phi Tau's brother and many Miami students' friend.

"I don't even know who the winner was," he said with a laugh. "It wasn't about winning or losing. It was about having fun."

Junior Scott Sutton agreed that the event was not a competition but rather a way to have fun.

"We have a lot of athletes, but they were all gassed," he said. "But they all loved it. Everyone had a great time."

Prophit was overwhelmed by the amount of support that he received for the project.

He received texts and calls not only from members of his fraternity, but also from people who knew Briggs and just wanted to help celebrate his life.

Fraternities and sororities raised money to donate to Briggs' charity before they even participated in the tournament.

"A lot of the sororities and fraternities started GoFundMes and they raised between $500 and $1000 each" Nigro said.

Sophomore Sarah Kern and her Delta Gamma sisters attended the event and played against some of the fraternity brothers.

"We just wanted to be there to support our friends and to do it for Justin," Kern said, "It meant a lot to me and to my friends that knew him."

More than the game, though, Kern was struck by the atmosphere of the event and the way in which it honored Briggs.

"You could just tell that the Phi Taus were there and were supporting each other and everyone else there was supporting them too," she said. "It wasn't supposed to be sad because he was always happy."

The tournament was only one of the many events that the fraternity has put on in Briggs' honor. The fraternity sold tickets for the Clayton Anderson concert at Brick Street on April 7. A portion of the profits from the concert was also donated to Briggs' charity.

They held other events like the concert and a GoFundMe campaign earlier in the year. They also had wristbands with the words "Live like Briggs" made and may soon have a bench dedicated to him.

The weekend brought people together to remember Briggs and his life. At the concert on Thursday, the crowd joined together and sang "Happy Birthday" to Briggs, who would have celebrated his birthday on April 10.

"No matter what, he always had a smile on his face and brought out the best in people," Nigro said. "And we want to thank everyone who participated this weekend."